VYCC had a blast hosting 15 inquisitive participants on campus as part of Open Farm Week on August 8th. Vermont news station WCAX joined in and put together a video featuring the East Monitor Barn restoration (check it out below!). Open Farm Week, organized by DigInVT and partners, offers the public the opportunity to go “behind the scenes” on a multitude of Vermont farms. Each farm offers a unique experience—guests can do anything from meeting farmers, to milking a cow, to enjoying wood-fired pizza.
Attendees of our event got an insider’s look at the veggie fields, the West Monitor Barn, and the Farm Barn. They heard from staff about the Health Care Share and food programs and enjoyed a delicious farm fresh lunch of pasta and veggie-ful sauces made by Corps Members. They also donned hard hats and entered the active East Monitor Barn restoration site.
Lead Restorationist Eliot Lothrop chatted with the group while they watched folks prep the ground floor for a concrete pour (a big moment in this phase of the restoration!). Eliot described his path to working on the barn, the history of the site, the amazing progress thus far, and next steps—check out our other blog posts on those topics on the East Monitor Barn site if you haven’t already.
In conjunction with the tour, WCAX chatted with VYCC Executive Director Breck Knauft about the scope and the purpose of the East Monitor Barn restoration. To see footage of the barn in the current stage of restoration and hear Breck’s take on the project, click play below! To read the full article and view a separate video about the Health Care Share program, click here.
/ Naomi Galimidi
Thanks to strong community support, and to the dedication of Corps Members willing to work hard to make a difference, projects are getting done.
The weather has not made it easy. We are happy to share that crews have remained safe through heat, poor air quality, and heavy rains. The team at VYCC has moved crews into and out of the field as needed to prioritize health and safety.
Summary of Recent Events: In early July, Vermont experienced significant flooding events. Before the first bout of flooding, we brought all camping crews to safe and high ground at VYCC. While they waited for roads to reopen, Conservation and Farm Crew Members teamed up to harvest all our garlic before it was lost. They also harvested beans, washed cabbage, worked with chickens, and packed Health Care Shares.
Farm crews delivered 390 Health Care Shares on July 13 by creatively routing around multiple road closures.
On July 13 and 14, we celebrated 4 weeks of working and learning together with the land. Some crews departed for a planned break week; others had finished their 4-week session.
On July 18, our Executive Directors – Breck and Leah – reached out to Governor Scott and the Secretaries of several state agencies to outline ways VYCC might be able to help Vermont recover from flooding, both in the short- and long-term. We look forward to getting to work in affected communities as needs align with VYCC crews’ skills.
Farm crews delivered 415 Health Care Shares on July 20. All conservation crews are back in the field completing planned projects.
There’s a lot going on in late April around VYCC. Members and Leaders are applying for jobs, solidifying their plans, and spring crews are getting started.
Here’s a glimpse of Farm & Forest work in April, and the people behind it:
Food & Farm
Many hands are waking up the farm. Leaders, staff and volunteers have been busy in the propagation house and market garden (that’s the plot between the two barns). Farm Leaders arrived in late March and have been making huge contributions to the land, and to our VYCC community!
Each Leader has a distinct role. Here are perspectives of four of the twelve 2023 Farm Leaders:
Claire has worked on a number of farms through her school years, from small family farms to wholesale vegetable production. “Lately, I’m passionate about pasture raised livestock, rotational grazing and diversified production. I’ve done a lot of solo farming and I’m curious about the power of what a lot of people can do together. I lived and worked as the only farmhand on a family farm, during COVID, isolated in northern Vermont. I loved it, but I think everything is better with other people. Having someone to help lift heavy things and bounce ideas with.”
Expressing appreciation for the experience of living where you work, Claire offers: “There’s something special about waking up there, drinking the water, eating the food, seeing the weather. It’s more than just driving there every morning – when it’s your home. And the team is more than just your coworkers.”
After spending last season with VYCC’s Food & Farm Program, Quinn worked at a farm in Huntington over the winter. They tended and cleaned storage crops like butternut squash and potatoes, and delivered to local co-ops. “Doing deliveries is interesting, especially after a snowstorm in a box truck.” After learning that winter farming can mean being inside a barn all day every day, Quinn is glad to be back: “I’m happy to be in a different environment.”
Christine will lead a crew of high school aged Members this summer. She participated on a summer Food & Farm Crew two years ago, and came back because “VYCC has a supportive environment. It’s a good place to learn leadership skills. I like that Leaders do the work with the crew, and we will eat together.” In addition to providing guidance to Crew Members, Christine is looking forward to a longer season, starting with learning how to get crops going from seeds in the propagation house: “Seeding is new for me. There’s still so much to learn. VYCC is an endless learning opportunity.”
Dominique grew up in a pizzeria, surrounded by a culture of food with her family – so it’s exciting to welcome her into the role of Food & Nourishment Lead, where Members and Leaders will have a chance to cook with her in the commercial kitchen.
Working for her aunt, a private chef who specializes in farm-to-table and Lebanese food, Dominique rolled so many grape leaves her hands turned green. She also studied environmental science, and says: “The crossover of food systems and sustainability is where I’m most fascinated. I’ve done research with farmers, but haven’t gotten to work on a farm yet. As I figure out how to use my degree, farming is the piece I need experience with. I can’t learn farming from a book. I was drawn to VYCC for hands-on farming experience and making food accessible to the surrounding community. Nutritious food. That element is missing from so many food access programs.”
Also, know that Dominque loves salad. Even as a kid she’d say “you can take away my friends but don’t take away my salad.”
Pro Forest Crew
A few weeks ago, the Pro Forest Crew was out of sight and earshot from the farm. Tucked into the woods uphill from the East Monitor Barn, the crew completed Game of Logging levels 1, 2, and 3.
Three members of the crew previously worked together at another corps running chainsaws. Eva (she/her, Crew Leader) and Mike (he/him, Crew Member) are two of them. Here is how they describe their week with VYCC and Game of Logging:
They told us that in their previous job, they earned a US Forest Service training and certification. The Game of Logging training builds on the skills they came to Vermont with; and “by class three, I was totally set. It was all coming together.”
“The instructor, Kyle, was so experienced. Not only were we learning textbook stuff, but getting career advice that he picked up over time. When we were felling trees, Kyle was really close. He had so much confidence in us. It helped us when we were learning to drop hazard and difficult trees.”
“We were scored the whole time, and the two crew members new to sawing came out on top!”
Mike’s favorite moment of the training: “I felled the biggest tree I’ve felled in my life. It felt amazing. It reminded me why I decided to come up here. I loved it. It’s so exhilarating.”
You can keep up with all VYCC’s happenings – projects and the people completing them – through our email newsletter. We do not sell or trade addresses. Get stories from the field once or twice a month. Sign up here: https://www.vycc.org/contact/join-our-mailing-list/
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/ Naomi Galimidi
VYCC is designed for growth. Corps Members can complete multiple seasons to build skills toward careers, accumulate AmeriCorps Education Awards and college credit, and earn industry-recognized credentials.
We are excited to highlight a few of the folks who are returning in 2023:
Whether someone returns after a only few months away like Quinn, or circles back after several years like Bo, VYCC loves to welcome Corps Members back.
Want to see more inspiring people? Check out VYCC’s 2022 Gratitude Report, capturing the year’s highlights: Gratitude Report